Winter Update

March 24, 2023


Arnold Irrigation District has begun preparation for fall construction of 3 miles of piping on Phase 1. A “Work Zone” has been staked out and trees within it are marked for removal.

Phase 1 of the project is the least densely populated with 28 properties, and yet almost 400 large Ponderosa Pines and other trees are marked (pink spray paint) for cutting by next fall. Phases 2, 4 and 4 will affect almost 400 properties, many of them facing destruction of their entire back yards.

Phases 2, 3 and 4 also have many more trees that will be at risk if the project is allowed to move forward according to current plans. Likewise, if the current method of choosing which trees to cut is followed, it’s likely that several thousand trees will be lost forever. There will be a large impact on the carbon offset, climate change, and wildlife if this mass destruction of the oldest trees is allowed to happen. Even guidance1 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of which NRCS is a part, seeks to preserve large trees by maintaining all remnant late and old trees greater than 21 inches in diameter.

Here’s a video that shows only a small fraction of the number of trees marked in Phase 1 to give you a better understanding and the magnitude of this project and the impending consequences: 400 Trees are on Death Row in Phase 1 by Adam Brown

1 USDA Forest Plans Amendment, Forest Management Direction for Large Diameter Trees in Eastern Oregon and Southeastern Washington, January 2021.

Legal Action

SAC, as a non-profit organization, and three individual board members are named in the complaint that was filed against both Arnold Irrigation District and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service in the late summer. (read the final complaint here)

There has been a bit of back-and-forth with AID’s attorney and ours, Brian Sheets (BRS-Legal, of Ontario, Oregon), since the complaint was filed with the upshot being that AID has filed a motion with the court to dismiss SAC as a plaintiff in the case against them, leaving only the individually named plaintiffs in the complaint. We have argued aggressively against this motion and now await the court’s decision. If this motion-to-dismiss is granted by the court, SAC’s position as a plaintiff in the federal portions of the complaint (the lawsuit against the NRCS) will remain in place. The court has 60-days from March 10th to rule on the matter.

Here’s a timeline of the arguments presented in US Federal District Court, Oregon Division, Eugene:

9-28-2022 SAC Complaint
1-27-23 SAC Amended Complaint
2-8-23 Federal Response to the Complaint
2-10-23 AID Motion to Dismiss
2-24-23 SAC Response to Motion to Dismiss
3-10-23 AID Motion to Dismiss

The resolution to this motion-to-dismiss will guide SAC’s next legal-action steps, especially as it relates to AID’s current activities in Phase 1 of the project—namely the marking of trees for removal ahead of piping. While AID District Manager Steve Johnson has spent a lot of time claiming that he and AID would be working with individual property owners to limit the amount of trees removed as much as possible the reality on the ground is that every single tree within an arbitrarily set swath has been marked for elimination in Phase 1. One property owner walked the entirety of Phase 1 and counted 383 trees market for removal, with over half of those being larger than 21-inches in diameter. As indicated in the photos and video, this is just the beginning of a vast amount of needless destruction that will occur unless we prevail in forcing a stop to the project as it’s currently proposed.

There are better ways to serve AID’s patrons and residents along the Arnold main canal while also supporting conservation efforts and farmers, and we are continuing to work hard to advocate for those more collaborative, less harmful solutions.

Thank you for your continued attention to this issue and your patience with the process.


Why You Should Oppose the Arnold Irrigation Piping Plan

For over 115 years the Arnold Irrigation District (AID) canal has been a resource for all residents of Deschutes County.  The benefits of the canal accrue not only to the agricultural patrons of AID but also to a wider range of residents, wildlife and plants.

The proposed piping of Arnold Irrigation Canal should alarm all citizens of Deschutes County and anyone who loves the outstanding scenic, cultural, and natural beauty of Central Oregon ecosystems. This historic canal runs from the Deschutes River over 13 miles to supply water to irrigators on the main canal and its laterals. It travels along the Wild and Scenic section of the Deschutes River past Lava Island Falls, past giant Ponderosas and wooded areas and out into farmland providing both water and scenic values to homeowners, district patrons, trees and wildlife that live and roam along the length of the canal.

  • We support the agricultural producers and irrigator patrons of the Arnold Irrigation District but we are opposed to the District’s proposed modernization plan.
  • We know there are alternatives to piping that have not been adequately addressed.
  • We believe in a full and open process where impacted property owners, District patrons, District stakeholders, and state and federal agencies can come together around a common goal.
  • We are deeply concerned over the District’s claim of a 50-foot right of way on each side of the canal, as well as their hydrology data and flawed project Benefit-Cost-Ratio.
  • We feel the people who rely on over 500 existing wells that will be negatively impacted by piping have not been adequately informed by the District.
  • We believe an Environmental Assessment is inadequate to address the broad impact and effects of the proposed project. This project needs further analysis, more public input, additional alternatives, and a full Environmental Impact Statement.

SAC Facts—Don’t Believe the Hype on Pipe

June 2023

The recent flurry of canal modernization attention–water conservation seminars, The Bulletin editorials (and poll) and County Commissioner Patti Adair’s support for our position—probably will not move the needle much in terms of Arnold Irrigation District’s plans to move forward with piping. Forcing AID to take a different tack toward modernizing the main canal will only happen in court, and that process is ongoing. In late-June Save Arnold Canal attorney Brian Sheets of BRS-Legal, Ontario, OR, will present oral arguments in front of magistrate judge Kasubhai to further define our complaint filed against AID (the District has filed motions to dismiss several elements of our complaint). The magistrate’s findings and conclusions after oral arguments will set the stage for any subsequent, related legal filings–and then the litigation process rolls on.

In the meantime, it’s worth staying up to date on the flawed arguments that piping proponents are continuing to push on the public and have some information to help counter their spin-laden narrative. Also, if a judge were to ultimately rule in a fashion that forces AID to revise their Environmental Assessment or produce an Environmental Impact Statement there will be new calls for public comment, and a better understanding of the issues will be useful at that point.

There are claims that if AID’s main canal isn’t piped that farmers in Madras won’t get any water—this is false. North Unit Irrigation District’s (Madras) allocation of irrigation water is not dependent upon anything AID does. They receive water, for better or for worse–depending on drought and their own system efficiency–in the same way AID does. The modernization plan for the AID main canal involves trading water “saved” by piping to NUID in exchange for it holding back this same amount of water in Wickiup reservoir (where NUID’s water is stored) for the sake of increased wintertime release into the Deschutes. This increased wintertime release is a requirement of the Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan that all the Districts must adhere to. NUID doesn’t gain any new amount of water in this plan. This plan is also not dependent on piping for it to work. Any means of reducing seepage loss would serve to make this water trade between AID and NUID. If the canal were lined with shotcrete, the resulting water savings could transfer to NUID in the same fashion.

There are claims that if AID doesn’t pipe the main canal AID’s patrons won’t have any irrigation water at all in a few years. This is both false and alarmist. AID’s main canal seepage problem has been known for many years and so long as AID doesn’t continue to over-excavate the silt “wet-pack” of the canal bottom, the seepage problem shouldn’t get any worse. The last few years of reduced irrigation water delivery have been caused by drought and low reservoir levels. Yes, a less-leaky canal would have made the lesser amount of available water last longer through the irrigation season, but the canal’s poor efficiency has not been the primary problem, just a compounding one. Any way to increase patrons’ on-property irrigation system efficiencies or reduce the amount of main canal seepage loss would make more irrigation water available, for a longer time—a pipe is not the only way to accomplish this. We are all in agreement that reducing the main canal’s seepage loss is a worthy goal—we just oppose a start-to-finish pipeline as the only way to accomplish that.

There is a claim that federal funding for AID’s modernization plan is only available for piping—this is not true. The federal PL 83-566 funds are available for alternative, structural seepage control methods like shotcrete canal lining, and they are also available for non-structural methods like water market swaps. Piping proponents try to frame our efforts to advocate for such other alternatives as a dangerous delay in the funding process and try to put blame on opponents of piping for risking such funding. AID has chosen to pursue piping at the expense of all other alternatives and has essentially elected to be sued. Had AID made the decision to line the canal or use a combination of pipe and shotcrete we could have begun the modernization process already.

Piping proponents have described AID’s plan to modernize its main canal as somehow interdependent with other Deschutes Basin irrigation districts’ plans and funding—this is misleading. Each irrigation district in the Basin operates as a separate entity and there is no interconnection between them for the sake of federal funding outside of the abovementioned water swap between AID and NUID.

Some County politicians have lauded the pipe’s benefits of pressurized irrigation delivery for District patrons along the AID main canal. These claims remain dubious and unsubstantiated. The fact is that over 12-miles the AID main canal drops only 40-feet, which has eliminated any chance for the District to generate hydroelectric power as other piped irrigation Districts have done. This lack of gradient and resulting low head pressure makes it highly unlikely that any widespread pressurized delivery will exist for patrons along the canal. The district has not been able to provide any specifics about how such a pressurized delivery would exist, but has acknowledged that if there was to be a pressurized delivery option, the cost of conversion to this system would be yet another cost borne by the individual property owner. The unlikelihood of providing a pressurized irrigation delivery further weakens AID’s claim that a continuous pipe from start to finish is the only option. Without a realistic hope of creating adequate pressure, a partial or segmental pipeline or hybridized solution of combined piping and canal lining becomes even more viable.

Add to this the recent evidence of a buried pipeline’s flaws and the need for an objective reevaluation of this method’s efficacy seems obvious. One problem that will continue to compound is an ongoing build-up of silt, as evidenced in Districts that have already been piped. This vast amount of sediment that otherwise settles on the bottom of an open canal and can be removed if it posed any problem is now trapped within the pipe, restricting flow and causing damage to on-property irrigation systems. Similarly, a recent pipe rupture in Tumalo Irrigation District (https://wordpress.com/post/savearnoldcanal.org/756) is an example of a buried pipe’s fallibility—certainly not the maintenance-free solution AID presents it as.

Save Arnold Canal and many individuals have exhausted every means of opening dialog and fostering collaboration with AID over the past four years but have been consistently ignored by the District. In the face of nearly universal opposition to the piping plan from property owners and residents along the main canal, AID has continued to press forward with a piping-or-nothing approach. We did not want to take this matter to court but have been forced to by AID’s constant stonewalling behavior. Keep in mind that neither the AID District Manager nor any member of the AID Board of Directors lives on the main canal, which may explain why AID has found it so easy to ignore their plan’s extreme costs that will become the sole burden of main canal property owners. We continue to hope that a reasonable third-party (a judge) will help broker a better partnership between main canal residents and Arnold Irrigation District moving forward.

The Problem(s) with Pipe

On or around April 8, 2023 there was the break in the newly installed Tumalo Irrigation District pipe. A field welded seam broke in the Taylor NW arm of the pipe that runs under the old Tumalo Reservoir Rd. just east of the intersection with Pinehurst Rd. The previous years piping dead ended there and was hooked into this year’s piping. Very near the time that new piping from this year was pressurized, there was a serious break that flooded the old reservoir and land to the south. The water ran unchecked for at least 2 days.

The leak was caused by a seam failure and had to be welded again. Experienced contractors who work with seam welding say these field-welded plastic pipes start leaking the minute they are put into service. This particular type of pipe is notorious for leaking.

It was reported that when TID did the repair for the seam failure, they had their shortest guy climb down into the pipe to dig a trail through 2 feet of silt so the crew could fit into the 6 ft pipe to do the repair.

Two weeks later it leaked again requiring another round of repairs.

Remember that this pipe has only been in the ground for 2 seasons. How much silt will be in the pipes in 10 years? A lot.

The problems with accumulation of silt were raised by the owner of Aspen Lakes Golf Course, Matt Cyrus, a few years back. He asked, what happens when the pipe fills with silt and in the meantime, we replace pumps and sprinkler heads? The silt wears down the pump impellers and the pump burns up. Many irrigators have replaced formerly new pumps after just 2 years.

A canal system is designed so that the water flows over the top of a gate or weir, taking the top layer of water after the silt had settled out. Any silt left behind in the ditch or gate is dug out easily in annual ditch maintenance. Removing silt from miles of buried pipe is way more difficult and expensive, it’s a “hidden” cost.

None of this maintenance expense was included in the Final EA where piping was portrayed as largely maintenance free. To get a better benefit/cost ratio and qualify for Federal grants, expenses are underestimated or ignored and passed to irrigators as “hidden” costs. This is unethical and violates the spirit and letter of the NEPA process which demands that all impacts be reasonably considered. Something Tumalo Irrigation, Arnold Irrigation and NRCS have failed to do.

Update (4/21/23): TID Allen Lateral is shut down again for another leak. This is the 3rd leak from the work that Taylor NW did 2 years ago.

Group of Arnold Irrigation Residents and Patrons Seek Relief, Ask Judge for a Review of Federal Agency Action

BEND, OR – A group of concerned property owners and patrons of the Arnold Irrigation District (AID) have formally sued the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and AID in federal court for authorizing a new modernization project along a historic 12-mile canal in Deschutes County, alleging violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

The group, known as Save Arnold Canal, have been seeking a more collaborative solution to the water conservation challenges of AID since the project was revealed. Solutions that would benefit critical habitat of the upper Deschutes, farmers of North Unit Irrigation District as well as the residents, vegetation, landscape, and wildlife along the main canal corridor.

The group says the ‘modernization’ project expressly eliminated viable alternatives to piping along the canal. They are asking the court to review the NRCS Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for compliance with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The group says AID inflated the costs of other alternatives to piping or simply refused to do a full and proper examination of them. Water-market-based solutions and non-membrane concrete lining are the two most-effective and least-expensive ways to solve the most problems with the fewest costs, quickly, and yet they remain the two alternatives that AID and the NRCS ignored.

Save Arnold Canal (SAC) is a local organization comprised of over 200 members and supporters who have been arguing against a pipeline as the only viable solution for modernization and have advocated for other alternatives for the past four years through a variety of different channels. Despite numerous public comments and discussions, the group feels it has been repeatedly denied a legitimate stakeholder’s voice in this matter.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that Arnold Irrigation District and the NRCS take a “hard look” at the impacts the project would have on both the human and natural environment as well as fully explore viable alternative solutions. In the Environmental Assessment for the project, a document that is far less comprehensive than a full Environmental Impact Statement and was approved by the NRCS, the group says none of that has happened. The action filed today is asking a judge to require that the NRCS and AID to simply comply with the law.

The issues that concern the Committee that the group feels have been ignored throughout the entire process:

  • The pipeline’s construction and subsequent eradication of all seepage will kill thousands of mature ponderosa pine trees.
  • The eradication of all seepage will eliminate the seasonal recharge of shallow aquifers and negatively affect over 300 groundwater wells along the canal corridor.
  • The pipeline will destroy 12-miles of established seasonal riparian habitat as well as a wildlife water source and travel corridor.
  • The pipeline installed on private property is more intrusive than allowed by law, and will cause damage to over 430 landowners, reducing property values by up to 20%, by NRCS’s own admission.
  • AID acknowledges that the 40-feet of elevation drop from top to bottom of the canal will not allow for hydroelectric power generation, but they cannot substantiate their claims of a pipeline’s pressurized irrigation water delivery system.

Save Arnold Canal is a non-profit organization formed by concerned property owners in Deschutes County with the goal of seeking mutually beneficial alternatives to the Arnold Irrigation District’s massive modernization project. The group includes over 200 members and supporters and growing. For more information including public comments submitted, maps, documentation, and videos see Save Arnold Canal.

The Last Comment Allowed

Our attorney, Brian Sheets, submitted a letter yesterday evening (9/6) via e-mail to NRCS’s Ron Alvarado and Gary Diridoni. The main body is 4 pages with an additional 30 pages of supporting documentation. Here’s the text:

The purpose of the additional 30-day comment period is to allow for new information or claims that issues weren’t adequately addressed in the Final EA and should necessitate an EIS, made it imperative that we give it a shot. If nothing else, a judge should see that we have taken every opportunity to engage in the process where we’ve been allowed. Due to the “new and unaddressed” criterion, you’ll notice the issues raised in this letter are a little more targeted than the wider ranging “complaint” can be. However, the specifics Sheets cites here and the multiple angles of arguement are encouraging.

Know Your On-Canal Property Owner’s Rights


Property Owner (on the AID main canal) Bill of Rights FAQ’s

*Note: This document is not legal advice and is only intended to provide basic information about the status of the law. Every situation and piece of property is unique with its own special circumstances and parties involved and this document cannot substitute the advice of a licensed attorney to answer other specific questions. Please contact your attorney for advice pertaining to your unique situation.

Photo courtesty of Warleggen 2022.

Q: I’m aware of AIDs canal road easement though my property because they have maintained access to it, but I’m not aware of any broader easement. What AID easement(s) are well established?

A: AID has claimed a right of way for the canal and laterals associated with the canal. These rights of way (legally classified as an easement) allow for AID to use the property for irrigation water delivery, maintenance of the canal, and a few other uses including power generation and transportation. These rights of way were granted to the States and irrigation districts from the federal Canal Act of 1891 and its later amendments, and the Carey Act of 1894.

The Canal Act of 1891 and its amendments granted rights of way to canal and ditch companies “to the extent of the ground occupied by the water of the reservoir and of the canals and its laterals, fifty feet on each side of the margins thereof….”

In addition to these rights or way, AID may also have implied or prescriptive easements that arise from using the land of another without objection or interruption for ten years, and whose use is open, hostile, notorious, continuous, but not exclusive.

A right of way is an interest in land, and in order to satisfy the statute of frauds, the right of way must be a written document describing the dominant estate, the servient estate, its location, and the purposes of use. Usually, these interests are recorded in the county land records to provide notice to interested parties when performing their due diligence in researching any interests in lands they are considering acquiring. Detailed title reports can show these interests through researching the county land records for recordation of these interests in land.

Q: What does this easement give AID the right to do on my property?

A: First, AID has the right to use your property for the canal in delivering irrigation water and maintaining the canal. Additionally, the irrigation district may enter your property outside of the easement if you are a “water user of the district.” The rights of the Irrigation District to enter upon private property are described in ORS 545.237:

ORS 545.237 Right to enter upon lands for inspection and maintenance of water works. (1) The board of directors, its officers or an agent or employee of the board of directors may enter upon land of a water user of the district for inspection, maintenance and regulation of ditches, pipelines, gates, pumps or other water works. In the absence of an emergency, the district shall provide adequate and appropriate notice prior to entering upon the land of the water user.

      (2) Any person exercising the right of entry granted under this section shall not cause unnecessary damage to the property of the water user. The landowner shall not be responsible to the person or the district for any injury or damage to the person or district arising out of or occurring by reason of the entry, except when the landowner intentionally causes injury or damage to the person or district.

      (3) The right of entry granted by this section shall not constitute a right of entry by the public onto the premises of the landowner.

Q: Can AID staff walk onto my property from the easement road?

A: If the Irrigation District personnel have provided adequate and appropriate notice and are attending to the inspection, maintenance and regulation of ditches, pipelines, gates, pumps or other water works, then yes. If it is to do activities outside of these actions, and/or you are not a water user of the District, then no.

Q: When can I tell AID staff to get off of my property?

A: You can tell them to leave your property if they are not attending to the inspection, maintenance and regulation of ditches, pipelines, gates, pumps or other water works. This is the limitation to their entry of private property.

Q: AID has maintained its access road over the years by trimming/pruning vegetation but only as it related to its trucks and equipment driving along it…can they expand their “foot print” on my property in anticipation of an approval of their modernization plan?

A: AID has claimed an easement that lies fifty feet on either side of the canal under the various federal acts. And the use of the easement is for irrigation water delivery. Any activities related to irrigation water delivery must be contained within that fifty-foot limit on either side of the canal. They cannot expand past that range for any reason without entering into a voluntary agreement, purchasing additional access from a landowner, or condemning access through a court procedure. Within the described and validated easement, the district can perform irrigation water delivery activities including maintenance and construction projects for the canal. The degree to which there is interference with the dominant or servient estate on matters that are abnormal or an expansion of the burden of the easement are fact dependent and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Q: AID is relying on the Carey Act of 1894 to claim a right-of-way extending 50 feet to either side of the existing main canal but property owners find no documentation in their deed records to support such a claim. Can AID expand its existing easement to such a broad area? Can property owners do anything to counter this claim?

A: Property owners should have AID demonstrate their claim to the extent it will satisfy the statute of frauds and mapping requirements under the various acts, meaning that there should be a written document showing the easement’s location and the purposes of use. Moreover, it should also have details on the width of the canal at the time the easement was granted to ensure that any widening that may have taken place over time has not expanded the easement beyond the original grant.

Q: AID claims that many trees are within its alleged Carey Act right-of-way and will need to be cut down. AID also claims that many property owners have structures or utilities infrastructure that exist within this alleged right-of-way and will need to be torn down or moved. These trees and structures often have been on the property through many changes of ownership without any claim of easement encroachment by AID. What are a property owners rights in this situation?

A: Depending on the length of time that the objects have been within the claimed right of way, there may be an issue of waiver with the dominant estate allowing the objects to remain and the subsequent reliance upon the waiver. Other districts that have implemented encroachment permit programs have limited the scope of the programs to apply to encroachments only after the program has been initiated given concerns of ex-post facto regulations as well as equal protection concerns on the program’s enforcement.

When a court reviews encroachments to an easement, the court employs a balancing test to determine the amount of interference of the objects along with the costs associated with requiring the parties to remove or alter their activities. These are case-by-case situations and fact dependent and should be reviewed by legal counsel for the affected property.

Q: What sorts of activities/behaviors on AID’s part would be considered “trespassing” on private property by virtue of overstepping the boundary and scope of AID’s easement? What would a property owner’s legal recourse be in this situation? Call the City of Bend Police? Call the Deschutes County Sheriff?

A: Activities other than the inspection, maintenance and regulation of ditches, pipelines, gates, pumps or other water works could be considered trespassing. This is the limitation to their entry onto private property. Depending on the jurisdiction of the occurrence, trespassing should be reported to city police when within the city limits, and county sheriff when outside of the city limits. However, this is only for actions that are not described above. If district personnel are doing activity related to irrigation work, they may re-enter for that purpose with adequate and appropriate notice.

Q: If an AID staff member wishes to speak with a property owner, can he be required to approach via the driveway in his marked vehicle to knock on the door, rather than approach from the canal road easement? It seems that their canal road easement is for passing through to conduct checks or maintenance but it doesn’t offer any ingress point to the property?

A: District personnel can enter the property for inspection, maintenance and regulation of ditches, pipelines, gates, pumps or other water works. Approaching a residence from the maintenance road to speak with a resident may be outside of this description. Unless it is an emergency, the district must provide adequate and appropriate notice prior to entering upon the property.

Q: In terms of limitations on what sort of easement-allowed access and maintenance duties there may be—what restrictions are in place for hours in which AID staff can pass along their easement road, or noise/dust levels? What constraints can be applied to AID activities per other jurisdictional controls, like homeowners group covenants, city codes, etc…

A: The district is still bound by City and County noise ordinances. The City of Bend noise ordinance is found in City Code 5.50, and limits normal construction hours to occur between 7:00AM and 10:00PM and limits noise volumes depending on the local zoning. However, the City may issue permits that exempt activities from the noise ordinance, as detailed in City Code 5.50.035. The Deschutes County Code noise ordinance is found in County Code Chapter 8.08 and has similar restrictions and a similar permitting process. The district personnel can enter the maintenance road at any time if they are performing maintenance on the canal or to address an emergency. Dust issues may be nuisances and/or code violations subject to control by the community development departments of the jurisdiction. Covenants, conditions, and restrictions will not apply to AID, as they are not a party that has agreed to be bound by homeowners association rules in the same manner a homeowner agrees to the CC&Rs upon purchasing a home in a planned community.

Q: If approached by AID personnel for authorizations or agreements, what rights does a property owner have?

A: Most importantly, the property owner should carefully review any document for all terms in the agreement. They should also be afforded time to review the document and allow for the consultation of legal counsel or other persons that the property owner can consult for advice. Short deadlines should be avoided, and statements by district personnel should be written down shortly after making them, or should be witnessed by other parties. If personnel are asking for oral authorization for a particular act, it should be reduced to writing with both parties receiving copies so that there aren’t any miscommunications on intent or scope of the authorization.

Arnold Canal: Modernization, Conservation, or Decimation?

Produced by SAC supporter and videographer Adam Brown and SAC supporters Deb & Jerry Rudloff

When it comes to the Arnold Canal, many are unaware of how integrated it is to where we live here in Bend, OR. This video is to help you experience what John Muir states: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” The Arnold Irrigation District (AID) has plans to pipe this canal that stretches 13 miles from the Deschutes River where it feeds in to the designated historic flume in the Deschutes National Forest. It meanders through 4 large neighborhood areas including a 1 mile stretch along the river (flume), Deschutes River Woods, Woodside Ranch, and then the Tekampe/Rimfire/Horse Butte neighborhoods. At the end of the canal and its various laterals, excess water is often just lost as it dumps onto the desert and over-watered fields.

There are many reasons why piping the canal is not the only option, is not the best alternative, and is not the most cost effective. However, many of these were interestingly not part of AID’s Environmental Assessment. We hope you find this video informative and that it gives you a much better understanding of how after over 100 years of the canal’s existence, there is a complete interdependence with the wildlife, plants, habitats, vegetation, and thousands and thousands of trees. We look into AID’s reasons for piping including: Seepage, evaporation, safety, conservation, as well as what we’ve also discovered about these factors and how this canal helps keep local wells functioning. Likewise, we also give you a glimpse of what will happen by showing you Tumalo after their canal was piped…complete destruction and devastation. Many homeowners are also experiencing their water wells drying up, which is another costly expense that has not been taken into consideration in the overall devaluation of properties. Thousands of trees cut down and many are now dying off due to no water, and this is just after a year of the Tumalo piping aftermath.

Water provides for the trees, and the trees provide habitat, shade and refuge for wildlife like: Eagles, cougars, foxes, raccoons, porcupines, frogs, ducks and more. In fact, the trees provide habitat for at least 57 species of birds. These trees that are along the miles and miles of the Arnold Canal not only create shade (as you’ll see) that causes the conservation of energy because of the lower temperatures in these areas, but they also provide carbon offset.

Arborists have said that trees that aren’t cut down in Arnold’s 50 to 150 foot right of ways along the canal, will more than likely be impacted because they are dependent on the water seepage from the canal. If the canal is piped, there won’t be seepage, so literally thousands and thousands of more trees will die as Tumalo is now experiencing. These ecosystems are being destroyed. The other alternatives to piping (like lining with gunite or shotcrete) would allow for some minimal water seepage which helps keeps everything alive and healthy, reducing the negative impact on local wells. In addition, these options are far less costly and still extremely effective (it’s already being implemented along certain portions of the canal with little to no maintenance nor damage after decades of it being put into place).

As you can see, this is far more than 100’s of neighbor’s backyards being threatened by the proposed piping, it’s about the interdependence of the canal’s water with the trees and forests, wildlife, riparian environments, conservation, and designated wild and scenic areas along the Deschutes River that will be barren and scarred forever. In addition, over 300 wells within 1 mile of the of the canal can expect to require deepening or complete redrilling as they dry up from not being filled by the canal’s water seepage. This includes municipal and private water supplies, homeowners and irrigators. Benjamin Franklin said: “When the wells dry, we know the worth of water.” What if this was your backyard and your property? The canal also gives the property owners the ability to help fight fires that we all know have become an all too familiar site during our hot summers in Central Oregon.

There is also a potential for the new spec rock and fill dirt roads that will be built to bury the canal pipe so they can bring in all their heavy equipment for piping and removing huge heritage pine trees. This road material may fall into and contaminate the Deschutes River near Lava Island Falls due to the steep and shorter hillsides where the flume runs along the river. This could have devastating effects beyond which have been researched.

The collateral damages could equal or exceed the expected cost of piping, and possibly double AID’s $87 million. The cost analysis just doesn’t support the piping and spending of tax payers’ money. Is it worth it when there are more effective, less invasive and less expensive possibilities?

Help us protect our canal, our wildlife, our trees, our waters, and our community.

Informational VIDEOS

This video shows in dramatic aerial drone imagery the natural beauty we stand to lose if the Arnold canal is piped, with a stark comparison to the devastation that piping has caused along Tumalo Irrigation District’s canal.

This video takes a look at the damage that piping will cause to the existing open canal ecosystem and offers some less damaging and less costly alternative solutions.

This video explains how Arnold Irrigation District plans to destroy the historic flume and build a mile-long, elevated road within the Wild and Scenic Area of the upper Deschutes River.

What Are Your Trees Worth?

Here’s a sample of how trees are valued. This is a simplified version of a professional arborist’s method and is not meant for legal or insurance purposes but it will give you a good idea of what your trees are worth.

In this simplified example we’ll use the Trunk Formula Technique (TFT) from the International Society of Arboriculture Guide for Plant Appraisal. The TFT calculation looks like this:

Reproduction Tree Cost = Largest Available Stock + Installation Costs

Basic Tree Reproduction Cost = (Cross-sectional area of the original tree) x ((Reproduction Tree Cost) / (Reproduction tree cross-sectional area))
where Cross-Sectional Area = Circumference2 x 0.0796

Depreciated Reproduction Cost = (Basic Tree Reproduction Cost) x (Condition) x (Functional limits) x (External limits)

For our example
A professional arborist will create maps, evaluate health, condition and form, and document values for all your trees. The report created can be used for legal and insurance claims. Images courtesy of Madison Tree Consulting LLC, Bend OR.

Reproduction Tree Cost: $380 for coniferous, $480 for deciduous (new 3″ diameter saplings, delivered and installed) PNW-ISA Species Ratings for Landscape Tree Appraisal.

Basic Tree Reproduction Cost: The new trees are 3″ diameter so you can multiply the cross sectional area by $56.76 ($380/7.068) conifer or $67.91 ($480/7.068) deciduous.

Condition you observed (health, structure, and form): 
Excellent: 1.0 – 0.9
Good: 0.9 – 0.75
Fair:  0.5  – 0.75
Poor:  0.30 – 0.50

Functional limits: trees located beneath power lines, near property lines, species that cause excessive litter, or species listed as invasive species. (For this example we are using 0.95)

External limits: City ordinances, easements, utilities, significant pests in the area, or site and climate changes. (For this example we assume your trees are in the Arnold Irrigation right of way and use 0.33)

Additional Costs:  Site clean-up, site changes, irrigation, and future maintenance (for this example we assume these costs are zero because Arnold Irrigation cleans up the mess).

To value your trees

These trees show some damage from deer antlers so the Condition is reduced from 0.75 to 0.60 in the chart below.

Evaluate the tree’s health and structure with binoculars for the crown and take a good close look lower down for dead limbs, bugs (sap dripping) and bark damage.

Measure the circumference of the tree at around chest height (4’6″) . Multiply that number by itself and then multiply that result by 0.7854. This is the cross-sectional area of your tree.

Now multiply that number by 57.76 for conifers (Pine or Juniper) or 67.91 for deciduous. This is what your tree is worth before depreciation, the Basic Tree Reproduction Cost.

The Depreciated Reproduction Cost (value of your tree) is the Basic Tree Reproduction Cost you just calculated multiplied by the observed condition, functional and external limits.

Circumference measured at chest heightCross Section AreaNew Tree FactorConditionFunctional LimitsExternal LimitsTree Value

Here are the appraisal calculations:

Tree 1 Conifer (Pine)
Cross section area = 712 x 0.0796 = 401.26
Basic Reproduction Cost = 401.26 x 57.76 = $23,177
Depreciated Reproduction Cost = $23,177 x 0.75 x 0.95 x 0.33  = $5,449
Additional Costs = 0 (Arnold Irrigation will remove and clean up)
Total Reproduction Cost = $5,449 +0 = $5,449
Appraisal Value = $5,400 (rounded to hundreds)
Tree 2 Deciduous (Aspen)
Cross section area = 192 x 0.0796 = 28.74
Basic Reproduction Cost = 28.74 x 67.91 = $1,952
Depreciated Reproduction Cost = $1,952 x 0.6 x 0.95 x 0.33 = $367
Additional Costs = 0 (Arnold Irrigation will remove and clean up)
Total Reproduction Cost = 0 + $367 = $367
Appraisal Value = $400 (rounded to hundreds)